It is the parents’ (or guardians’) responsibility to call the shots when it comes to vaccinating their children following the childhood immunization schedule.
“[Pediatricians] always want to give the vaccines at the earliest time,” says Dr. Lulu Bravo, executive director of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination
“So parents, don’t delay! We don’t know when [your child] could be exposed to any disease,” she emphasizes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention likewise reminds parents that on-time vaccination throughout childhood helps provide their children much-needed immunity.
Dr. Bravo advises parents looking to have their kids immunized this year to follow the 2021 Childhood Immunization Schedule. “Vaccines are dynamic, depending on the situation, the environment, and what threats are present. This is why the country’s [certified] pediatricians come together every year to make the necessary guidelines and recommendations,” she explained.
According to the 2021 Childhood Immunization Schedule, the Bacillus Calmette–Guérin or the BCG vaccine used primarily against tuberculosis must be given at the “earliest possible age after birth,” preferably within the first two months of life. While the first dose of Hepatitis B vaccine (HBV) must be administered to all newborns within 24 hours of life.
The latest immunization schedule covers children’s age from birth to 18 years old. Go to www.philvaccine.org/education/childhood-immunization-schedule to see the timeline.
For those who have missed a vaccine due to the pandemic or other reasons, Dr. Bravo suggests parents ask about catch-up vaccinations, urging them to go back to health centers and carry on with their kids’ vaccination as soon as it is safe. “Call your health center and ask if it is open, and talk to your pediatrician,” she states, adding that setting appointments and asking about health center safety protocols will also help make visits easier.
At the end of the day, experts say the most important ally a parent can rely on regarding their child’s health including meeting the immunization timeline and other vaccine concerns is their pediatrician.
“If a mother is worried about the vaccines [administered to] her first baby, she really need to ask her doctor,” says Dr. Bravo. “Your pediatrician should give you the most accurate recommendations for your child’s vaccine. You can read from the newspapers, the Internet, or social media, but some resources don’t really build confidence or give correct information.”
“Make sure your pediatrician is certified by the Philippine Pediatric Society,” she adds. “The Philippines is not lacking in experts! There are over 6,000 certified pediatricians, and we are all working hard in order to make sure that kids are safe from many of today’s vaccine-preventable diseases.”
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